The Role and Activity of SWI/SNF Chromatin Remodelers

SWITCH deficient SUCROSE NONFERMENTING (SWI/SNF) class chromatin remodeling complexes (CRCs) use the energy derived from ATP hydrolysis to facilitate access of proteins to the genomic DNA for transcription, replication, and DNA repair. Uniquely, SWI/SNF CRCs can both slide the histone octamer along the DNA or eject it from the DNA. Given their ability to change the chromatin status quo, SWI/SNF remodelers are critical for cell fate reprogramming with pioneer and other transcription factors, for responses to environmental challenges, and for disease prevention. Recent cryo-electron microscopy and mass spectrometry approaches have uncovered different subtypes of SWI/SNF complexes with unique properties and functions. At the same time, tethering or rapid depletion and inactivation of SWI/SNF have provided novel insight into SWI/SNF requirements for enhancer activity and into balancing chromatin compaction and accessibility in concert with Polycomb complexes. Given their importance, SWI/SNF recruitment to genomic locations by transcription factors and their biochemical activity is tightly controlled. This review focuses on recent advances in our understanding of SWI/SNF CRCs in animals and plants and discusses the multiple nuclear and biological roles of SWI/SNF CRCs and how SWI/SNF activity is altered by complex subunit composition, posttranslational modifications, and the chromatin context to support proper development and response to extrinsic cues. Read more